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Showing posts with label ThinkScotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ThinkScotland. Show all posts

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

“… the birth of a new democratic, sovereign Scotland” Brian Monteith in the Scotsman

Tomorrow, Venus will cross the face of the Sun. No, it’s not a Page Three girl on the front page of a tabloid, it’s The Transit of Venus, an astronomical event which last occurred in 2004 but won’t occur again until 2117. It happens when Venus, the Earth and the Sun are in alignment.

The independence referendum in the autumn of 2014 will be the last for a long time, but no one can predict when, if ever, another such event will occur if Scotland votes NO. A large number of things will have to be in alignment if Scotland is to achieve its independence, and the Scotsman newspaper is doing its best to ensure that they are not, in fact, its aim is to ensure a total – and permanent – eclipse of the aspirations of  Scots who want their country to be independent by permanently keeping a dead moon, the UK, between Scotland and the light of global freedom.

However, as is their way, they do occasionally give a place to a commentator who has something useful to say about the Great Debate. Today it is Lesley Riddoch on the BBC, specifically BBC Scotland. It is well worth a read, and you can read it here.

In her trenchant analysis, Lesley makes a point that has been close to my heart, one that I have made many times, about the narrow pool – and narrow geographical radius from Pacific Quay - from which BBC Scotland lazily draws its commentators.


“... the Beeb’s own narrow selection of TV guests reinforces the impression that intelligent opinion is held only by the hyper-opinionated metropolitan few.

“... current affairs relies on a small number of conveniently located commentators who hop nightly between the Pacific Quay studios of the BBC and STV. Does no-one outside the chattering classes or the Central Belt have a view on our constitutional future?”

The main reason I suspect is that BBC Scotland only makes up its mind very late in the day to invite a commentator or panellist - often at short notice on the day of transmission - and defaults to the easy option of drawing from the Glasgow media types’ dormitories, e.g. Glasgow central and the West End. Extreme parochialism and crony networks have always been a feature of BBC Scotland in my lifetime, although there are brave and hardy – some might say foolhardy – journalists and producers who try to break down this stultifying pattern.


A regular contributor to the independence debate in the Scotsman is Brian Monteith. His right to such a regular platform rests on the fact that he is ‘on message’ in totally opposing independence, and his democratic claim to this rests on the fact that he is policy director of a right-wing think tank funded by a rich individual, Robert Kilgour.

The Scotsman give the URL of ThinkScotland as

I have news for them – this domain is for sale – I quote as follows -

This domain name (THINKSCOTLAND.COM) without content is available for sale by its owner through Sedo's Domain Marketplace.

Best get it right, guys – it’s

Here’s what I’ve said about them in the past The New Right in Scotland

Brian is full of advice for the NO Campaign today – read him here Unionists for Scotland not a contradiction

He at least gave me one laugh -

Secondly, and most importantly of all, these are swing voters; they are currently counted in the unionists’ No pile but if they move to the Nationalists’ Yes pile, they have the effect of not just adding to the Yes vote but subtracting from the No.”   BRIAN MONTEITH

Fancy that! If someone who planned to vote NO votes YES, it adds one vote to the YES’s and subtracts one vote from the NO’s. What an insight! I never thought of that! That level of deep psephological understanding warrants at least a CBE, maybe even a knighthood.

But Brian also made a kind of Freudian slip, and brightened my morning no end with this phrase -

“... the result would be the break-up of the United Kingdom and the birth of a new democratic, sovereign Scotland.”  BRIAN MONTEITH 

The birth of a new, democratic, sovereign Scotland 

I like that, Brian!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Playing the man and not the ball – Brian Monteith in the Scotsman

I had something to say about Brian Monteith and ThinkScotland back in July Brian Monteith - ThinkScotland July 2011 and here we are again today...

Calling something a think tank is intended to give it an air of responsibility, conjuring up images of learned, objective academics, highly qualified in their fields, detached and disinterested, considering great problems, offering their pearls of wisdom to the people.

There are probably a few think tanks internationally that more or less conform to that ideal, but many are front organisations for shadowy interests, such as the kind of things American neocons sponsor quietly. The religious right is fond of them too, and these types of think tanks offer lucrative lecture tours and sponsorships for academics and experts who display the correct political orientation, or who are happy to faithfully reflect a line, and compromise their academic integrity for the goodies they receive.

Some of the even manage to fool the charity commissioners and are set up as non-profit organisations – non-profit until you consider the substantial gain to individuals involved in them in fees, lecture tours, expenses, global travel, etc. Indeed we have a recent egregious example that brought down a cabinet minister in the UK.

Think Scotland, however, is not one of the above types, and as my July blog – linked above – shows, there is nothing secretive about them, in who their founder and funder is, and what their politics are – it’s all up there for inspection if you take the trouble to visit their website - ThinkScotland - about us

What they most certainly are not is objective about Scotland, Scottish politics or the Union. And as far as the elected Government of Scotland are concerned, well, this can be judged from today’s effusion from Brian Monteith in the Scotsman – where else – entitled

 Sinister centralism at home in SNP. Monteith's Scotsman article 31 October 2011

In his second column, para 4, Brian Monteith makes the following complaint, after asserting that anyone that is not one of us (i.e.) the SNP) … “will be ridiculed, pilloried or marginalised”.

“ … cybernat bloggers consistently play the man and not the ball when posting comments on”

He goes on to say “Sadly this style on intimidation is something that one has come to expect from the SNP.”

Of course Brian does not ridicule, pillory, or play the man, not the ball. (He can hardly marginalise the Government of Scotland, elected by a landslide majority.) The full text is linked above, so you can read it all for yourselves. But here is a flavour of Brian heroically resisting the tendency to ridicule, pillory and play the man – and woman – not the ball …


“There is a repugnant, sinister centralism in the SNP government’s behaviour …”

“All politicians suffer from hubris and Alex Salmond reveals it with alarming regularity, but what appears to be a bullying nature and a fear of losing control are now coming to the fore.”

“If this type of spinning and subterfuge continues, last week’s apology may not be the last Alex Salmond has to make.”

“Sadly, this style of intimidation is something one has come to expect from the SNP; it betrays an ugly side to nationalism that is as abusively sectarian as anything said at an Old Firm match – “

“Even the nice Mr Swinney has shown bullying tendencies that cannot be dismissed as mere political arm-twisting …”

“Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon will reintroduce her policy of minimum pricing of alcohol despite the evidence debunking the claim that price is the main factor leading to alcohol abuse. Her bullying of smokers will continue unabated …”

“In education, we can see an impatient if not arrogant Michael Russell dropping the arms-length principle; threatening the independent appointment of university principals and condoning the “merger by fax” of Dundee and Abertay universities …”

Russell’s central diktat …”

“Whichever way we look, Scotland under the SNP is becoming centralised, censored or bullied. Is it any wonder so many question privately what independence would be like under an imperious Premier Salmond?”


The above is the language of a right-wing think tank, representative of nobody but the individual who funds it and the handful of people who contribute to its ‘thoughts’. In it, I hear the authentic echoes of Fox News and Ross Limbaugh. It uses highly coloured terms, expresses contempt for individual politicians by the use of these terms, and attempts to engender an air of conspiracy and paranoia around the sober business of government, in a highly challenging time for the Scottish economy and the Scottish people, when the global economy is extremely fragile.

If this kind of journalism is what ThinkScotland produces – and what the Scotsman thinks deserves a platform - I think Scotland can do without its thoughts, and the Scotsman has to reflect on its editorial judgement. Of course, Brian Monteith can dismiss me as a cybernat blogger, part of the great SNP conspiracy and sinister centralism.

And of course he can also say that I am playing the man, not the ball.

Well, this man has no ball, so what’s left for me – or anyone – to play?

Monday, 25 July 2011

Brian Monteith and

Brian Monteith makes one of his regular appearances in the columns of The Scotsman today, with a piece entitled Playing the name game could help the LibDems, one of a series of articles from Brian and others that have appeared since the SNP’s electoral victory in May, all of them designed to offer one form or another of artificial resuscitation to the parties so decisively rejected by the Scottish electorate.

Since Brian Monteith is a Tory, and is a Tory thinktank (I will defend that assertion shortly) - although it doesn’t fly under Tory colours - this is rather like one corpse trying to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to another- a grisly spectacle, not for the faint-hearted.

All of the articles of this type are characterised by loathing for the SNP, the democratic choice of the people of Scotland in two elections, who presumably ‘thought Scotland’ when they made their choice so decisively at the ballot box.

I quote -

While the SNP delays and dodges tough decisions …”

The LibDems are at a very low ebb in Scotland and it is no surprise that the SNP is mischievously  suggesting members and politicians leave the party to join them. Leaving aside the notion that true liberals would wish to join a party that has some of the most illiberal Tartan Taleban within its midst …”

What is Brian - and ThinkScotland’s - grand plan for the LibDems?

Leave big business to the Tories, and leave  the unions to Labour for now - the Liberals can give a voice to the articulate and moderate professional classes that is warm and reassuring to voters about what independence might mean.”

In spite of the above, he closes by advising the Liberals to return “to their radical Scottish roots”.

By abandoning big business to the venal and values-free Tories and the unions to the equally venal and values-free Scottish Labour Party? How radical is that, guys?

Become the Valium Party for those timid professional classes to scared to stand for anything, desperate for reassurance, and let the Tories and Labour continue unchallenged with their rapine and exploitation of the people?


Here is the link to ThinkScotland - About us - go the the team for more information.

It was founded by Robert Kilgour and the organisation is wholly funded by him. He is a Scottish entrepreneur, international investor and property developer working out of London.  He stood as a Tory in Hamilton South in 1997.

ThinkScotland states that it “is not aligned to any political party and welcomes diverse contributions and debate.”

It looks to me like a Tory thinktank, but judge for yourself by its team of advisors -

Phil Gallie (deceased) was one - a former Scottish Tory MP and MSP

Elena Kachkova -Parliamentary Adviser to Struan Stevenson MEP at the Scottish Conservatives Central Office (1999 - 2002). She moved to South Africa in 2002 where she continues a successful career as a Consultant on matters relating to the former Soviet Socialist Republics, and political affairs in South Africa.

Richard Cook - Director of an export company in the environmental waste management and recycling industry. A former Vice Chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party.

Struan Stevenson became a Conservative MEP in 1999. He is currently the Conservative’s Front-Bench Spokesman on Fisheries and Deputy Spokesman on Agriculture.

Shailesh Vara was elected as the Conservative MP for North West Cambridgeshire in May 2005. He is currently Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.

Margaret Mitchell was elected as the Conservative List MSP for Central Scotland in 2003.

There are other advisors whose political affiliation is not stated. They are -

Bob Leitch - Chief Executive of Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce & Industry

John McGlynn - founded the Airlink group with interests in car parking, property development, document storage and venture capital. In 2005, he founded Scotland House to promote business links between Scotland and Estonia

Paul Holleran - National Organiser for the National Union of Journalists.

Tino Nombro - of Ambergreen - an early pioneer of search marketing delivering cutting edge search strategies for forward thinking bluechip brands, including My Travel, Marks & Spencer Money and Carphone Warehouse.

Charles Ferguson - a Solicitor Advocate based in Hamilton - specialises in criminal matters.

Jackie Anderson - retail experience at Mark & Spencers' store at the Gyle, Edinburgh, “before deciding to travel the world and write - bringing her down-to-earth, provocative and humorous take on life to ThinkScotland. “


Lastly, let me address Brian Monteith’s shabby attack on the SNP.

Yes, Brian - there are those in the online community who express extreme views in favour of Scotland’s independence. Like the sectarian ranters of Scottish football, they are matched by equally extreme views from the Tory extreme right and the Labour extreme left.

But there is a difference, and one that the Scottish Tories and LibDems would do well to consider carefully, and that is that the Scottish National Party is not afraid to reach out to the deprived and underprivileged in Scottish society - the people who have been betrayed over generation by Scottish Tories and Scottish Labour. These Scots - often young Scots - have been deprived educationally and socially, and their political views are often inchoate, and expressed in primitive and sometimes extreme language.

But they are learning and learning fast, and they know who is on their side and who is not. It once was the Labour Party - it was never the Tory Party - it is now the Scottish National Party.